Two Mahoning County superintendents will retire, and be rehired, in the new year.
Springfield Superintendent Debra Mettee retires Monday and will return to her post in January after winter break. West Branch Superintendent Scott Weingart is expected to retire March 1 and be rehired March 2.
Both said recent changes to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio factored into the decision.
Mettee has been with the district 16 years, and her most recent contract does not end until Sept. 1, 2015.
Mettee will be rehired to fill the remainder of her contract, but will take a $30,000 pay cut each year. Her salary was $102,000 annually this year and drops to $72,000 next school year.
“This will save the district more than $100,000 and will allow for continuity of leadership,” Mettee said.
Mettee also serves as legal counsel for the district but is not paid anything additional for that post.
“It is a cost savings. Our staff is going on zero percent increase. It will be a zero [step and wage increase] for everyone. ... This is another way to save money without changing anything else,” she said.
Weingart will be rehired as superintendent for a new, 21/2-year contract.
Weingart will take a 10-percent pay cut reducing his annual pay from $96,000 to $86,400, which could save the district $24,000.
The decisions come after changes to the STRS system that include a provision that if members retire after July 1 next year, they have to wait five years before receiving a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment annually.
If members retire before July 1, they will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment for one year, but will then receive the 2 percent adjustments after that.
“If it weren’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have entertained this idea,” Weingart said.
He added that he believes many school employees will retire, without asking to be rehired, before July 1, because of the changes.
Weingart described retire-rehire as a “tool” to have a “good, seasoned employee at a reduced rate.”
Members of STRS who retire-rehire can draw on retirement and the reduced salary, what has been referred to as “double-dipping” by critics of the policy.
Mettee said there is an “unnecessary stigma” of retire-rehire.
“Occasionally you hear people talk of getting rid of retire-rehire. State lawmakers did pension reform, and if they wanted to get rid of it, they would have. They do see the benefit of having that option,” she added.